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The Memphis and Shelby County Board of Adjustment has vetoed a proposed parking garage planned as part of the massive expansion of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital campus, a move the hospital's fundraising and awareness organization, ALSAC, said "could adversely impact our planned missional expansion."
The board on Wednesday voted down the project citing concerns from nearby Uptown residents who for months have been voicing opposition to the garage, saying it conflicted with plans neighborhood organizations had in the works.
The proposed garage would have been seven stories and could have accommodated about 1,500 cars. It was planned for what is currently open green space at the corner of A.W. Willis Avenue and Third Street.
ALSAC said it was disappointed with the vote but work will roll on with its expansion.
"We will continue to explore our options to expand our campus, including returning to the Board of Adjustment at the appropriate time, since we have significant new construction planned on the western side of campus and the Pinch District and need additional parking to accommodate our growing workforce," the organization said.
ALSAC said it and the hospital have added more than 1,200 jobs over the past six years and the two entities were expected to create another 1,800 additional jobs in the coming years, driving the need for additional parking options for staff.
"This growth will allow us to advance research and lifesaving treatment for children worldwide and continue to create new local opportunities for investment and employment," ALSAC said.
In previous interviews with the Commercial Appeal and at press events, Uptown residents expressed support for the institution of St. Jude but voiced concerns about the loss of green space in the area and fears about adverse impacts of increased traffic.
"We love St. Jude. We respect the work of St. Jude," Tanja Mitchell said. "We would like to have more of your employees living in our neighborhoods, doing life with us: walking, playing, living. We'd like more of your jobs. We'd like more of your employees to live here. We don't want your cars."
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In November, ALSAC said it was "listening to our neighbors’ concerns and are modifying our design to better blend into the community by changing the proposed color, having first-floor activation with retail, and creating additional green spaces to promote a more vibrant, walkable area."
Design plans show a curated green space along A.W. Willis with "walking paths, bold landscaping and plenty of space" to allow "neighbors to exercise, relax or enjoy lunch from a food truck."
The changes were not enough to convince board of adjustment members to allow the variances needed to allow garage construction to move forward.
Corinne S Kennedy covers economic development and healthcare for the Commercial Appeal. She can be reached via email at Corinne.Kennedy@CommercialAppeal.com
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: St. Jude parking garage vetoed; ALSAC says expansion will continue